An Open Letter to the US President Mr. Barack Obama on the occasion Of his visit to India.
Date: 25/01/2015Dear Mr. President
When Mr Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of India visited the US in September of 2014, we wrote to the Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry, on the need for an urgent, just and democratic solution of the Kashmir issue and reminded him of your administration’s responsibilities to support a process for a solution.
Mr. President on the occasion of your visit to India to participate in its Republic Day celebrations, and to conclude agreements with the Modi government in economic and political relations, and to develop closer ties with India on civil nuclear deal and strengthen defence and military cooperation, we take the liberty of directly engaging with you through this open letter that as leader of the free world you have a responsibility in relation to the unresolved status of Jammu Kashmir- generally referred to as Kashmir dispute- comprising of regions and territories under both Indian and Pakistani control.
Mr. President the question of Kashmir’s future status is yet to be determined and it is our firm view and expectation that the United States of America will ensure that legitimate and fundamental political rights of 20 million forcibly divided Kashmiris will be recognised as the most important and central factor in any settlement of the issue.
As is befitting of a world power of USA’s stature, we anticipate that you will remind Mr. Modi of India’s obligations towards Kashmir and its people, and will impress upon him that his government must honour the solemn pledges which India made before the world community when it accepted the inherent and inalienable right of self-determination of the Kashmiris- a right which 20 million people of Kashmir have not been allowed to exercise for the past 67 years!
We venture to cite one such poignant example of a solemn pledge which India made on 1st January 1948 when its government took the matter of Kashmir’s status to the UN Security Council and declared “ that the question of Kashmir’s future status vis-a-vis its neighbours and the world at large and the question on whether Kashmir should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the UN all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them” UNSC document Agenda 227. And yet Mr President, despite being on the files of the UN with a clearly defined and identified mechanism for its resolution based on the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people, the issue remains unresolved and as a festering sore and conflict between India and Pakistan that has rendered Kashmiris invisible!
Since the late 1940s India has maintained a huge hostile military presence both on the Cease-Fire- Line (LoC) and since the 1990s in the urban areas. The presence therefore, of over half a million regular Indian troops in Kashmir is nothing other than the presence of a foreign army of occupation. Today Kashmir is the most heavily and densely militarised region in the world. Successive Indian governments and political leaders have reneged on solemn pledges and quite blatantly deny the existence of a genuine sentiment and struggle for self-determination of the Kashmiris.
India and Pakistan Mr President, have fought wars over Kashmir and despite the existence of a cease fire between them since 2003, armies of both countries exchange heavy fire across the LoC where they are deployed in large numbers eye-ball- to eye ball against each other. Their daily exchanges of fire cause casualties not only of military personnel on both sides but also of many Kashmiri civilians who live along both sides of forced Line of Control-LoC-.
The actions and attitude of the Modi government since it came to power in 2014 give Kashmiris no cause for confidence for an early resolution on the question of reunification and a political status of their choice in Kashmir. On the contrary Mr Modi’s attitude and actions are aggressive, bellicose and hegemonic both in relation to Pakistan and the Kashmiris.
Since he came to power in the summer of 2014 Prime Minister Modi visited Indian held Jammu Kashmir eight times. It is quite clear that each of the eight visits by Mr Modi, was intended to conquer Kashmir rather than resolve the long standing issue of its future political and constitutional status. Instead of conquering Kashmir Mr. Modi has alas communalised the body politics and socio- political culture of Kashmiri people who on the whole are tolerant and non-communal unlike people in most other parts of South Asia.
For electoral gains Mr Modi has attempted to create a cleavage on the basis of regional differences and ethnicity. In the recent elections in Indian held Kashmir his government imprisoned the leaders of Jammu Kashmir liberation Front-JKLF- because the JKLF opposed the elections, as such elections could not be considered as an alternative to the right of self-determination and reunification of Kashmir. Mr Yasin Malik the Chairman of the JKLF was incarcerated during the entire two months period of the election process; depriving him his fundamental democratic right to engage with the masses on the question of Kashmir’s political; status.
The inconclusive election results and failure to form a government in Kashmir and the imposition of Presidential rule, is proof that Mr Modi’s aggressive and chauvinistic political ideology has exacerbated and polarised the political and social environment, and by his actions Mr Modi is orchestrating to subvert the national and political character of Jammu Kashmir to create facts on the ground that would support his political objective of assimilation of Kashmir and dilution of its identity and loss of its centuries old communal internal harmony. Mr Modi wants to create facts on the ground by assimilation into India of Kashmir in contravention of all international and bilateral agreements on the question of its future status.
Mr. President we would like to reiterate very strongly our position that, Kashmir issue is wrongly viewed as a dispute between India and Pakistan. Undoubtedly of course, it is because of the entrenched nature of Indian and Pakistani positions and especially of Indian intransigence over Kashmir, which is a major obstacle in the path toward progress for a peaceful solution. It is however our firm belief that the world community in general and the United States of America in particular must see this dispute as an issue that concerns the fundamental right of Kashmiris to political expression, democratic rights and sovereignty over their country, which at present is de-facto ruled by India and Pakistan, with little or no democratic sovereignty of the people over their socio- economic and political affairs.
In reality and in fact within the historic dimensions of the Kashmir issue, world community and in particular the permanent members of the UN Security Council, are a party to the Kashmir dispute, and thus have a solemn obligation to play a role towards finding a peaceful solution based on the fundamental principle of free will of Kashmiri people.
Mr President we consider it our democratic right to seek and indeed expect, that the US extends full diplomatic, political and moral support to Kashmiris in their legitimate struggle to peacefully secure reunification of their country that has been divided for the past sixty seven years. As you are aware this division of land and the people has been forced upon Kashmiris- and the Indo- Pakistan dimensions over the conflict have rendered the people simply invisible. The suffering and humiliation that Kashmiris have endured since 1947 is nothing less than a tragedy of a subjugated and oppressed nation.
Tens of thousands of Kashmiri families remain divided and are unable to meet each-other in times of grief and joy. Those who are lucky enough to obtain visas have to navigate unfathomable beauracratic hurdles on both sides. This is a state of affairs that would not be accepted or tolerated anywhere else. This is exactly why the ‘Iron Curtain’ was brought down in the west. We seek the same through peaceful exercise of our right of self-determination.
Kashmiris in general, and the leadership of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front- JKLF- in particular is committed to making Kashmir a bridge of peace, friendship and prosperity between India and Pakistan as a considered party policy, and a long standing national objective. We believe that a free and sovereign Kashmir will truly become a peaceful bridge that India, Pakistan, the region and the world needs, especially at a time when all around us there is turmoil, conflict, mistrust and extremism in the region and elsewhere. Resolution of the Kashmir conflict therefore is the vital proverbial key that will unlock the tremendous potential of both countries for the region and the world for peace and prosperity.
Mr President we are confident that you will seize the opportunity of meeting the Indian Prime Minister and will discharge your administration’s and your nation’s historic international obligation, and persuade Mr. Modi to adopt the direction of justice, democracy and respect for the national aspiration and the inherent and inalienable rights of the people of Jammu Kashmir.
In anticipation with warm regards
For and on behalf of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
Prof. Zafar Khan. Chairman of Diplomatic Bureau
London Secretariat: 119-123 Cannon Street Road. North Basement London E1 2LX